Brewing

Like that busy little cricket, or dung beetle, or inch worm, or whatever he was, I must prepare for the upcoming winter, for it shall be cold and dark, and I wish to not be caught unaware.

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Let us take stock of what we have.
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One for me, one for Blake. Check
Two for me, one for Blake. Check

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Three for me… Oh dear, this will never do! The inconceivable horror of it all! Famine will be upon us! Our meager supplies will not last the winter! We’ll never survive! We’ll be shriveled up, dead husks before the end of the first week!

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Even if we use the snow to chill our drinks, we’ll be praying for death. Where did I go wrong? What did I do to deserve such a fate? Sobriety is a harsh mistress and I will not face her!

But wait, all is not lost. To the crafting pavilion with all haste before it’s too late!”

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

After basking in the glory, majesty and deleterious effects of Alley’s wines, ales and spirits, I was most anxious and keen to try my hand at the craft. With adult supervisions of course.

While not commonly known, I am descended from a long lineage of ale makers, vintners and topers. My several times great grandfather Dropwort was gifted at the craft and said to be a legend in his own mind. While widely know for his aromatic ales, refreshing lagers and light pilsners, he strode into the realm of infamy and banishment with his pink salmon infused spirit water. As legend has it, the taste was unforgettable. No matter what you did.

While not to be seen as a braggart, I have gained my own success and noterietay with the haunting and distinct taste of my Elemental Guano Stout and the not as commonly known and rather under appreciated, Cinnamon Bark Ale with Wild Boar Extract. Some naysayers claim the latter has a touch too much bite for it’s own good and to be palatable, it needs less “earthy” notes. I have explained many times that “earthy” and “wild” go hand in gauntlet. Further, “gritty” is not a recognized affirmation when describing ales. But, it falls on deaf ears to the uninitiated.

That aside, much has gone according to plan this time around. The first step was to carefully gather the ingredients from reputable vendors rather than those undependable and unsavory types lurking in the swamps selling knock off goods from the back of their rickety carts at cut rate prices.

I then meticulously followed each step Alley had outlined for me. She included a variety of handy illustrations and clearly highlighted points of danger that were most beneficial.

I believe I have made a success of it. Some say the first sign of a fine whiskey is the aroma. That may be true, but equally important is the lack of lumps, so this batch has already proven it’s worth. Further there were no toxic vapors issuing forth to cause me to lose my bearings and topple to the floor.

Creating the spirit was not the only time consuming task. There is far more to the act than merely throwing handfuls of herbs and fruit into a pot and stomping about on the mash with water redirected from the local town fountain.

I toiled for many days to prepare the hand crafted, hand seasoned storage casks that will safely protect my creations and nurture them for months and years to come.

It also came as a revelation that I should harvest wood taken from trees in a pristine forest and pass over those that were ravaged by the blight and home to mild infestations. Certainly the trees topple with far less exertion on my part, but they ultimately infuse the brew with a pungent necrotic foot aroma. This latter outcome goes in the negative column I’m told.

With the casks done and the mash cooked, my brewing is complete! I now have two batches of red wine, two batches of white, four casks of various ales and beers, plus both the young and medium aged whiskey.

However, the pinnacle of my efforts comes in the form of two barrels of the mature whiskey.

Due to the long maturity period and the many moons that will pass before Blake and I can make headway against the nectar of my labor, and to ensure we don’t end up with goblets of dreck that we will be forced to choke down out of principle, I have crafted two of those.

And to make sure I do not fall victim to the villainy of some rapscallion of the realm getting any wise ideas into his head about trying to abscond with my delicate bounty, I have assigned Danish, my guard dog, and Cervantes, my reckless and belligerent manservant to keep out an ever watchful eye.

He may be lackluster with household chores, and holds a grudge against many of my more valuable family heirlooms, but Cervantes is well trained in the art of broomstick combat. Danish is fully trained to dig a discreet hole and dispose of the evidence.

If needs be, they will both be relegated to sleeping outside until full maturity occurs. To take care of their creature comforts, they will each be provided with a blanket and a banana tree.

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More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

For the past several weeks I have been suffering from a tenacious and somewhat embarrassing bought of the plague. But, through the many unsavory mercury treatments along with some other rather dubious remedies, I feel myself on the mend with only slight bouts of delirium.

And since I’m once again able to remain standing and walk a reasonably straight line, I am anxious to see the progress Alley has made in the ancient art of brewing and distillation. I hear tell she has several fine casks of ale, wine and whiskey aging in her subterranean holding facility and nothing says healthy stroll about town like going on an excursion in search of spirits.

Not to reveal it’s secret cavernous entrance, we went to the basement hatch located on the side of her lot. Through the earthen tunnels I beheld a glorious sight, a bevy of beautifully handcrafted casks, each stacked neatly and filled with a feast for the palette. But, much to my chagrin, none of these would be ready for several months to come and the old whiskey would sit for many years in the aging process. Alley assuaged my fear by explained there would be plenty to go around for the next Yuletide Harvest Festival.

My jig of excitement sent me off balance and nearly caused a calamity as I bounced off one cask, tumbled into another and finally tripped on another, tumbling headlong to the floor. The cask remained impervious to my blunder and I was soon giving it a gentle pat and in a calming tone explained, “Fear not little one, Blake and I will look after you and never let any harm come to you. It was merely a misstep and won’t even happen again.”

With a shake of the head, Alley explained the ale needed to rest and we should take our leave.

“How about I teach you how to make your own, then you and Blake can spend your days watching over your own batch in the safety and comfort of your own basement?” Alley asked.
With a great tinge of excitement I said, “Oh, that would indeed be delightful! Your generosity knows no bounds!”

I was near overwhelmed when the mood was spoiled by a terrible commotion and clatter at the basement entry. The source revealed itself as a dark figure entered and told us to stand aside.

“I see you have crafted the famed vintage whiskey,” he said. “How fortuitous. It will save me having to make my own. Now stand aside so I may relieve you of that cask.”

“Now see here,” I exclaimed. “Is this some sort of whiskey robbery attempt?”

His reply was a resounding attack to my face which marred my nose quite severely and filled my eyes with tears. He shoved me aside as he made for the cask.

“You do realize that cask is well over several hundred pounds in weight and there is no possibility your scrawny little frame is capable of lifting such things,” Alley said calmly. “Plus, it hasn’t aged yet, it’s not fit for drinking. Come back in 25 years and try agin.”

“You dare insult me?” he said angrily.

“Take it how you will. Not only are you a blockhead, you’ll be crushed like the grapes that were under my feet. And quite possibly the same color when all is said and done,” Alley replied.

Taking a moment to consider, he finally said, “Very well, I shall have to run you through and make more suitable arrangements to relieve you of my quarry. It’s age is of no consequence to me!”

“I wouldn’t do that,” I said with a voice that was shockingly nasal and in no way instilled the proper level of threat and menace.

“And what do you plan to do?” he taunted. “You going to cry on me?”

“I’m not crying! I’m merely misty-eyed over here!” I protested. “But fair warning, Alley is going to fill you with regret,” I continued.

But he paid no heed and drew his weapon.

I tried to reiterate the dangers related to his ill-conceived attempt to abscond with Alley’s 25 year old whiskey, but the poor chap was struck down with a savage crack to the back of the head, a paralyzing assault to his knees and a shattering blow to his wrist and elbow.

I still reel at the memory of the cracking sound that filled the room. A series of deeds took place that forced me to avert my eyes. His cries for help were indeed pitiful and heart wrenching, but alas, he brought this misery upon himself. It’s a terrible misdeed to mangle my nose in such a fashion. But skulking into a whiskey with designs of thievery? That sort of behavior deserves no mercy.

The brutish stranger stood no chance, and now his horribly disfigured body is displayed as a warning to others who might hold the same foolhardy notions.

I gave you fair warning. I told you it was a bad idea. You chose not to listen and now I shall wipe my boots across your boney backside. Serves you right!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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